The story of Orphan Annie

A couple of years ago an Angus black heifer showed up on the Ranch.  She didn’t have a brand just an ear tag with a herd number.  We called all our neighbors and put out the word that we had an extra heifer – no one came to claim her.  It didn’t take us long to guess a reason, as she was the best darn fence jumper we’d ever seen.  She’d go back and forth between our ranch and our neighbor’s, for whatever reason she decided she liked the grass on our side of the fence better.  Okay she can stay, we’ll call her ‘Annie’; we’ll breed her with our Longhorn herd sire and have a Longhorn-Angus cross to put in the freezer.

A year goes by, the fences hold, spring comes – no baby.  UGH!  We’ll give it one more year, if she doesn’t have a calf we’ll send her to the sale barn.  The following spring we get a calf, a beautiful spotted bull calf that bore absolutely no resemblance to his Angus genetics.  For a first year momma, Annie had a ‘bag’ to die for – it more resembled a milk breed more than an Angus.  As any woman worth her salt will tell you, “There’s more to being a good momma than extra-large mammary glands!”

Annie's babyWe were getting worried that the baby wasn’t looking as energetic as it should, so we went into the pasture to do a closer check.  Baby was weak - but nursing, so we decided to give it another day before starting down the bottle-feeding path.  Bonding with a calf through bottle feeding, that is destined to go in the freezer, was more than we really wanted to do (or have the boys do)!  Our mistake, we came home to find the calf dead.  We buried the baby and then immediately put Annie in our beef program.  We fed her the same mixture of grain and sweet feed we feed our beef Longhorns, then we took her to the butcher – without remorse.  Finally!  We’re going to have the opportunity to taste the difference between Angus and Longhorn - based on the same pasture, water, care, finishing, etc.

WOW!  What a difference!  We grilled two rib-eye steaks, one Angus and one Longhorn.  We used the same seasoning, same grilling wood, same temperature and same level of doneness (medium rare).  There was no comparison!  The depth of flavor of the Longhorn was deeper and much more intense than the Angus.  The primary flavor of the Angus was derived from the seasoning and smoke, the meat itself was fairly bland.  The tenderness of each steak was very similar.  Now whenever we have a restaurant steak, we compare the flavor to Longhorn – not Angus.  This experiment has affirmed our love of Longhorns; both in the pasture and on the plate.  In the pasture they are beautiful to behold, as moms they a wonder to watch, as beef they are the BEST!